The day before the moving truck arrived I drove the kids and the cats to my parent's house. The kids would just be staying the weekend but the cats were to live there until we find our new house. Over the years they have made the trip to my parents' house many times. My parents also have cats and although there is no love lost between them, they get along ok for the most part.
As is usual for Shark upon being released from her tiny cat prison (cat carrier) she fled to the basement to listen to Alanis Morissette and hate the world. It only lasted a few days and by the end of the weekend she had decided that it is actually warmer upstairs in my brothers old room anyway. The next ten days or so went by in a blur. The kids and I came and went from my parents' every few days, there were definitely days when Shark did not grace us with her presence but that was not unusual.
My mom mentioned that one or both of the cats had been throwing up, which I completely dismissed because they have always been pukers. The vet told us when they were kittens, "some cats are just like that." I wasn't overly concerned about the news, more apologetic that my mom was having to clean up cat throw up several times a day. A few days later Matt and I took the kids over for a visit, and Sunday night dinner. Shark was laying on the living room rug not looking her best. I picked her up and she felt very thin to me. I put her on my lap and pet her for a few minutes seeing if she would perk up, but mostly she just laid there very still. I started to get a little worried so I asked my parents if they had seen her eat or if they knew whether or not she was the one throwing up. The thing about a reclusive cat is that they are hard to monitor, Shark had definitely been hiding the fact that she didn't feel well.
After about an hour I started to get a sick feeling in my stomach. I was able to get her drink a little water but afterwards she laid down on the kitchen floor. I told Matt that I thought we should take her to the emergency vet (of course these things always happen on a Sunday after hours). I am not going to say a whole lot about the experience at the vet. It was horrible, they treated us as though Shark had been neglected. We didn't want to pay thousands of dollars (that is not an exaggeration) to run the diagnostic tests and the staff would not treat her without them. She was very sick, the vet suspected that her liver was failing and didn't think she would make it through the night if we brought her home.
I simply couldn't bear the thought of leaving her there, I was certain that she would die alone in the night. After fifteen minutes of holding her and crying our eyes out we made the gut wrenching decision to have her put to sleep.
In the name of full disclosure, putting her down was harder on me and my husband than I ever in a million years would have predicted. There was a lot of crying, a lot, and it lasted for several days. I felt like I had let her down. We sold the house to move to Maine as a family and now we will be moving in to our new house without her. It hurts. Even though it happened the week after Thanksgiving it still hurts now and I have had to take a break from writing this post twice to get a tissue.
Telling Lily was hard and I tried my very best not to project my own feelings on to her. As it turns out she had some pretty deep feelings of her own and she spontaneously sobbed at lunch a few days after we had told her what happened. My philosophy, in general not just in this instance, is to only answer the questions she asks as truthfully as I can, without elaborating or adding details that she might not understand. In the end she had three really profound questions. 1. Are Colby and Blackbeary sick too, will they need to go to the vet? (I told her no, they were not sick, and that getting sick does not always mean that an animal will not get better and come home) 2. Is Shark happy where she is now or is she still sick? (I told her that Shark was definitely not sick anymore, that she had gone to sleep and was probably dreaming about being at home with us) 3. Will I miss her forever? (Yes, we all will and that is okay.)
Shark was, to this day, the absolute cutest kitten I have ever seen. Matt and I adopted her and her brother when they were just 8 weeks old. They were so tiny and I can still hear their little cries as we drove them to our apartment. They were our first babies. We took hundreds of pictures of them, bought them presents, and missed them while we were at work. Sharky had these giant eyes and we would often make hooting noises, to imply that she was more owl than cat, to each other when we would catch her staring at us. Over the course of nine years we subjected her to four moves, a dog, and two babies. It really is a wonder she didn't kill me in my sleep. For the most part she liked to be left alone to lay on the clean laundry except in the winter, then she would return to me and would spend all day and all night on my lap if I would let her. I was her person. She was our fatty boo, pain in the ass, grumpy, lazy old cat...and I loved her with my whole heart.